Archive for August, 2009

Hurricane Bill Friday Afternoon

August 21, 2009

This is an unofficial update.  Please check with the

Canadian Hurricane Center

for the most current and accurate information


Map courtesy of the Canadian Hurricane Center

From the Chart you can see that “Bill” will be passing “VERY” close to Sable Island (CY0) and will be also very close to the Islands of St Pierre and Miquelon  (FP) .  Although these islands are just off the Newfoundland Coast (VO1) they are territories of the Republic of France.

For the best in animated projections

check out this link at Stormpulse

As you can see (if you have been following this blog) the tracks for Bill are constantly changing and so if you are anywhere in the area where Bill might be coming for a visit take precautions.

If your callsigns start with VA1/VE1/VE9/VY2/VO1/CY0/FP or to translate if you are in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Sable Island or St Pierre and Micquelon then you really should be getting ready for a CAT 2 Hurricane visiting your area.

If you live NEAR the above mentioned locations then you should be prepared for a CAT1 or a very strong Tropical Storm visiting your area.  Remember its hard to tell the difference between a CAT 2 or a Tropical Storm when you house is being washed away by the storm surge.

You have about 48 hours to prepare for Bills arrival.  Thats plenty of time to evacuate if you feel you need to.  Thats also enough time to re write your will if you feel you don’t need to evacuate.

Please be careful out there and act accordingly…


Tornado and storms sweep across VA3/VE3

August 21, 2009

Well I had to put the callsign prefix in…  This is an amateur radio blog….

To those of you who are non hams please replace VA3/VE3 with “The Province of Ontario.



Yesterday evening (Thursdsay August 20th) a series of severe storms swept across South Western Ontario in an Easterly Direction.  These severe Thunder Storms spawned several Tornadoes.  There are reports of major property damage and one reported fatality.


Map courtesy Public Safety Canada

Click on the Map for the article that the graphic came from.

As you can see from the graphic the storm came through an area of high tornado activity.  I’ve lived in Ontario all my life (53 years so far) and I never really noticed how bad it seemed to be.  I can remember a Tornado in the Winchester Ontario area about 20 years ago as I was visiting a friends farm in Winchester when it hit.  There was a Tornado that hit Alymer QC (across the river from Ottawa) I think about 10 years ago and this year there was a Tornado that hit parts of Ottawa back at the end of April, but until you look at the graphic on a map you don’t really stand back and say “WOW’…

About two weeks ago there was a Tornado that hit the Mount Laurier Area of Quebec ( about 1.5 hrs north of Ottawa) and there were fatalities related to that storm as well.

Last night I really did not even know it was on its way east…  I heard a boat load of static on 80m and the Ontario Phone Net last night seemed to be a non event.  I heard nothing from Ottawa and then tried a echolink remote recvr in Niagara Falls and nothing there either.  Later in the evening I found out that the storm went through an area that most of the Net Participants and Net Control Stations either live at or are vacationing near.  Tonights net should have some good stories though….

Later in the evening I find out that the line of storms are still fairly strong and heading east.  This is confirmed by the Environment Canada Weather Radar and also by checking into a late evening Ontario Net on 3.730 and hearing the guys talking about what just blew past.

Not much to do at this end other than make sure all the battery packs are on charge.  I have a Booster Pack and automotive 12 V trouble light for each floor of the house.  Its not hi-tech emergency lighting but it works fine.  The radios in the shack all run off a 12v deep cycle marine battery so we now have lights and in a worse case senario communications….  Now What???

A quick check of the back yard shows that anything that could be blown around like lawn furniture is already tied (chained down) so all is good.  Now we wait….   about an hour later it starts to rain and then the “Sound and Light” starts but it seems the storm has either weakened or passed us and its all over now…

The news reports say we were lucky.  There was major damages and there was loss of life… It could of been worse but it was bad enough…


ps….  At this time I am not sure of the level of Assistance provided by the local ARES Groups.  More on this later…  This is one of the things they train for so it would be intersting to hear how things went after the fact…

Looks like “Bill” will visit SABLE ISLAND (CY0)

August 20, 2009


If you follow the latest guess ( I mean prediction or forcast) from the weather people it looks like  Nova Scotia (VA1/VE1) and Newfoundland (VO1) will be taking the brunt of the storm.  New Brunswick (VE9) looks like it will be missing most of it and Prince Edward Island (VY2) should miss most of it as well.


Map courtesy of the Canadian Hurricane Center

When we look at the map however there is this little dot called Sable Island which is the home to a science station, a bunch of wild horses, many seals and a few DXPeditions in its time.

As you can tell from the above map its not that big of an island and if you check the Stormpulse Site you will see that the track of Bill will bring it fairly close to the island.

I’m hoping that all will be OK with the island and its few buildings as it will be a home to a DXPediton in October and lots will be looking for the CY0 Prefix as its fairly rare.

Whatevers supposed to happen won’t be happening for a bit yet.  Best Guess is for Sunday Night/Monday Morning so theres time for the track to change before then….


Hurricane Bill heading to Newfoundland

August 20, 2009

Although we are getting plenty of warning its predicted that sometime on Sunday Evening to Monday that Hurricane Bill will visit the Province of Newfoundland.

BILLtrackPicture courtesty of Canadian Hurricane Center

If you follow the animated graphic map HERE you will see that on the way to Newfoundland it will give the other Maritime Provinces a glancing blow.

Now on to the radio side of things keeping in mind that this is still an Amateur Radio Blog.

The Maritimes (VA1/VE1/VE9/VY2/VO1/VO2) all have an excellent ARES based Amateur Radio Group working with their Provincal Emergency Measures Organisations.  If there is any communications it will most likely occur in the VHF Band as they would be using 2m fm for the most part.

There could be some HF Activity and you could look to the Maritime Net frequency of 3,750, and in Newfoundland look for activity on 3.740 with the Newfoundland and Labrador Evening Traffic Net who would be sharing the Frequency with the EMO (Emergency Measures Organisation) Net.  To be honest I do not expect to hear much 80m traffic as their VHF Repeater systems are so good.

There is still a ways to go before the arrival of Bill but its better to get prepared sooner than later.

More on this closer to the arrival date…


Hurricane Bill- looking at the Maritimes

August 18, 2009

Well this was not expected, at least by me…

It appears the first Major Storm of the year Hurricane Bill will be missing the Eastern Seaboard of the US and will be giving the Maritime Provinces of Canada a bit of a rough time.

Right now its a bit too far away to forcast properly but the long range forcasts show Bill heading north about 250 miles south of Halifax on Sunday afternoon…

The scariest part of this is that its getting coverage on CNN and Fox who both mentioned  that the Maritimes could get hit late Sunday.  Given that last year none of the Hurricanes were news once it was obivious that the States would not get hit I find it strange that this time they are even mentioning it…

Check out this link and get the most up to date graphic predictions on Hurricane Bill.

More info as we get closer to Sunday…


One Lighthouse — 2 assigned numbers

August 17, 2009

It has been brought to my attention that when I was operating the last 3 weekends that the lighthouse I was operating from has one name and one location but two different numbers depending which Lighthouse Group event you were participating in…

Hopefully my incomplete or incorrect contest exchange can be corrected before you send in your logs if you were participating in either event.




You will also notice that my QSL Card for this event has been changed to reflect the two different groups and the two different lighthouse numbers.


Saturday Radio Report

August 16, 2009

Well Saturday was a great day…  The Weather cooperated and the conditions were not so bad either.

I hiked over to the Science Musuem and set up on the corner of their property (as no one thought to ask permission to operate in time) and was about 250m away from the lighthouse (note to self…next time think far enough in advance to get permission so you operate at the actual lighthouse).  Using this clandestine form of operating I was able to activate Lighthouse CAN865 H for the Lighthouse event on Saturday Aug 15

SANY4240Picture courtesy VE3WEH

The above picture shows my view of the lighthouse from my operating position.  If I had thought to inquire earlier about operating I might of been able to set up at the lighthouse itself.  This year I had to be “out of sight  and out of mind…”  but no one seemed to notice me or bother me and all went well…


As normal with my other two Saturdays I operated using my FT 817/LDG QRP Auto tuner and a W3EDP Antenna along with a 2.5AH SLA and a small solar panel.  The complete Kit fits in a small backpack.

SANY4241Picture courtest VE3WEH

The above picture shows my set up consisting of Portable Table and Folding Canvas Chair.  Black Lump in front of Table is the backpack that all the radios toys fit into.  you can see the vertical element of the W3EDP heading up into the tree that I am using for shade.

SANY4243Picture courtesy VE3WEH

Above picture shows the Ft 817/Tuner and 2.5AH SLA Batterty sitting on the table.  Big Signals for such a small set up…

SANY4245Picture courtesy VE3WEH

The above picture just shows the front of the setup.  The Setup is sitting on my glasses case just to elevate the front to make it easier to see the display.  Somebody forgot to pack the radio stand in the backpack…..

SANY4244Picture courtesy VE3WEH

Seeing that Larry’s camera had a “wide angle” lens you can also see the operator making a contact in the Lighthouse Event.


Above is the QSL Card that I will be sending out.  My logs says I should be looking for 27 cards coming in direct or through the buro.  Some might come in via EQSL as well.

Although the number of contacts were not the best I did spend 3 consecutive Saturdays in the great outdoors.  Its also amazing how many stations could hear my QRP Signal and how many low signal reports were revised once they found out that VA3RCS was a lighthouse.  To me the signal report is not that important…

If you work a contest everyone is 5 and 9 ….

However I get a laff at the stations who after I tell them I’m running QRP they tell me my signal is low…  I tell them I know my signal is low as I’m QRP… They then tell me they can hear me but my signal is low…  I repeat my previous statement….

I know my signal is low….  I’m running 5W!!!  The fact that you could hear my signal is good…. I would be happy with a 5 by 1 report….

Anyways thanks to all those who worked me….

Also thanks go out to Larry VE3WEH who showed up with his camera and visited for a while.  Good thing he did as I forgot to pack my camera… again….  Larry also took a video and I am hoping to post it here and on youtube once he gets it to me…  It might be a bit big for an email file transfer so we will have to see.

Also thanks go out to Harold VA3UNK who dropped in for a visit.  Harold also watched the store while I headed off to the closest public rest facilities for a short break.  The assistance with tear down and the ride home was also appreciated.

Contacts were made on 20, 40 and 80m with the most contacts happening on 40m.  Most of my contacts were made in the States, with a few in Canada and one in Europe.  To be honest my antenna was aimed South West/North East so I was aiming for the States more than Europe.  I was really amazed with how well everything (my set up) worked on 40m…  On 40 if I could hear em I could work em and I  even broke a pile up…  On 20 and 80  I had to be patient and a few (more than a few) stations escaped me.  I could of doubled my results easily if I had better luck on 20m.

But it was fun and this hobby is supposed to be fun….


Getting ready to head out

August 15, 2009

Its 0730 eastern and I have just about finished my first cup of coffee.  The weather forcast is looking GREAT and the FT 817 is packed up in in backpack along with the tuner, solar panel and battery.

LighthouseqslcardThe above QSL card says it all..

I will be operating as VA3RCS

Victor Alpha 3  Real Canadian Station

From the Ground of the National Museum of Science and Technology

Lighthouse CAN 865 (H)

I should be on site and operating before 0830 eastern and starting on 80m then bouncing between 20 and 40 depending on band conditions.  I will be checking 10 and 15 for openings as well.

Hope to hear you and work you later today


More “Bits and Pieces”…

August 14, 2009

Well group the weather has been FANTASTIC over the last few days and the weekend is looking just as good so its been hard to spend time in the shack when we finally have had summer arrive in Ottawa…

I continue to check into the Ontario Phone Net 5-6 nights a week and so you can usually find me  “on or about a frequency of 3.742 mhz at 1900 hrs EASTERN” To be honest I normally try and check in Monday to Saturday but on Sundays I have a prior commitment that is family related and so… 6 out of 7 ain’t that bad…


Keeping on the theme of the Ontario Phone Net…  I was able to get outside with my FT817, W3EDP  antenna, 2.5ah sla with solar panel and the LDG QRP Auto tuner and check into the Net on Wednesday Night.  Ian VE3HMS in South River was the NCS and he had no problems hearing the “BOOMING” 5watt signal.  Operating from the field greatly lowered my noise floor and so I could hear all the participants although not everyone could he me…  The 2.5ah sla with small solar panel replaces the 10ah sla pack I usually use and my back appreciates the difference between 2.5 and 10 as the 2.5 weighs much less.

It will be this same setup I will be taking to the Museum on Saturday (tomorrow) for the final installment of the Lighthouse/Lightship QSO Party/event.  I’m still not really sure what its all about as two different groups seem to be claiming it but I just keep on giving out contacts and my lighthouse number and others keep calling me so I guess its all good.


Above is the QSL Card I plan to send out for this event.  Don’t forget to send your SASE (no SASE gets returned by the BURO)direct to VA3RCS.  EQSL works as well and if you send by the BURO I will reply the same way.  I should be active on Saturday starting around 1100 EASTERN most likely on 20 and 40m but I will be checking all bands between 10-80m for any sort of propagation.

Lets see how things go tomorrow…


Losing Weight

August 13, 2009

Well when myDoctor told me to lose weight I don’t think he was talking about my backpack but anyway….

I found a new backpack that my small solar panel fits into.  This allows me to swap out my 10ah sla and replace it with 2.5 ah sla.  This is cutting down the weight of my pack by a great deal…

I will be testing this out this coming weekend when I take the gear over to the Museum Lighthouse for the last weekend of my 3 weekend dxpedition to activate CAN865 Lighthouse.

So far the weather has cooperted and the band conditions have been good and I have been able to play radio and get some fresh air at the same time….

Lets see if I can go 3 for 3 this weekend